My Spyderco Top Five Challenge

June 13, 2018

Last year, I got called out on Instagram for a Top Five Challenge. The point of this challenge is to show the five favorite knives in your collection. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this kind of challenge is not easy! I went at it from the angle of ‘my top five most used EDC folders’. No surprise, they’re (almost) all Spyderco knives.

The Spyderco Delica is one of the first knives I got, which taught me that great performance can be had in an affordable package. I have a bunch of Delicas and this older left-handed Delica 3 CF sprint run is a very refined representation of the design.

Caly 3
While the Spyderco Military introduced me to the full flat grind back in the day, my Calypso Jr. was probably carried and used more, because of its size. I used the heck out my Calypso Jr. since I only had like five spydies at the time. If only I got called out for a #topfivechallenge then, it would’ve been very easy! I’m hooked on the Calypso pattern and like the upgrade into the Caly 3 design. I have picked up quite a few variations over the years. This Caly 3 with a ZDP-189 laminated blade and carbon fiber handle is one of my current favorites.

Lum Chinese Folder
The Lum Chinese Folder is an amazingly stylish looking folder that doesn’t sacrifice much in utility value. It is perhaps the start of Spyderco’s series of ethnic folders. For me, the Chinese Folder is proof that knives can be useful AND pretty! This sample was a distributor exclusive I think, and it features a full ZDP189 blade and black almite handle scales.

The Stretch is my all-time favorite utility folder by Spyderco, period. It’s got everything I like: right size, full flat grind, spot on ergonomics and it is 100% lefty compatible. It’s big enough to tackle any reasonable chore I have encountered over the years, and its profile is still compact and ‘social’ enough to carry almost anywhere. The second generation of the Stetch, the Stretch 2, is OK but I prefer the original. This Stretch with a full ZDP189 blade and peel-ply carbon fiber handle is my favorite of the line. I consider this Sal’s best design to date.

Ed Schempp Custom Bowie
This custom version of the Spyderco Schempp Bowie is the crown jewel in my collection. It is a recent acquisition and my first true custom knife. Ed made it to my personal preferences: left-handed, lightning strike carbon fiber handle, mokume bolster, cladded CPM154/S90V steel blade, and a pocket clip. The pinnacle of my collection!

Spyderco 2017 Production Sample – Bob Lum Lil’ Lum Blue Nishijin Sprint

March 11, 2017

The Lil’ Lum sprint run with blue nishijin was one of my favorite knives at the meet. The Chinese Folder design is one my longtime favorites in the Spyderco line-up and this small Lum is a really nice gent’s knife that’s even passably lefty-friendly. The blue nishijin is a nice accent for a gent’s knife like this. I’m happy to note that, as I write this, I already got my own blue nishijin Lil’ Lum. So this one can be crossed off the wish list!


Overall Length:  13,6 cm / 5.37  inches
Blade Length: 6 cm / 2.38 inches
Blade Thickness: 2 mm / 0.07 inches
Weight: 51 grams / 1.80 ounces

Rare Variation of the Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder

May 14, 2016

The Lum Chinese Folder is one of those designs in the Spyderco line-up that I’m really excited about. I appreciate its rare combination of amazing looks and incredible functional utility. I managed to collect most, if not all, of the variations of the Chinese Folder. So you can imaging I am very happy to come across this rare variant of the Chinese Folder!


This particular knife started its life as part of the Sprint Run Chinese Folder with a blue almite handle, and then it was laser engraved at the factory with this bug-in-the-web pattern. This engraving service, and in particular this design, was advertised by Spyderco in one of its catalogs in the early 2000s. However, I’ve never seen such a Chinese Folder ‘in the wild’.


The knife itself was in excellent condition. It looked like it was only used for opening mail or boxes until the edge lost its factory-edge. A quick touch-up on my Sharpmaker got the edge back to its proverbial hair-popping sharpness. I also brushed out the lint in the handle and applied a few drops of oil in the pivot to make this unique Chinese Folder 100% functional again.


The handle has no damage at all from use or carry, I couldn’t find any scuffs or scratches anywhere. I’m very happy to add this unique variant to my collection of Spyderco Lum Chinese Folders.









Have you seen a similar Chinese folder in the wild, or in your collection?

Amsterdam Meet 2015 photo screen test – Part 2

January 22, 2015

I was very happy with the feedback I got on my first batch of ‘screen test photos’. It got me thinking and tinkering to improve the images. Mind you, I still prefer to use natural light, which I use for all my regular photos. However, I need to use artificial light at the Amsterdam Meet, and a set-up that helps me take a few hundred photos that can be quickly processed. I like these a lot better, looks like I’m dialling in to where I want to be…Thanks for watching!










New Spyderco Lum Family Photos

April 3, 2010

With two new Chinese Folders in the pipeline, I figured I get in some new family photos while they all still fit in one frame.  When reviewing these pics, one question popped in my head: “Which one is your favorite”?

(photos revised in October 2012) 

To me, that’s like asking to choose your favorite child! They’re all good, just a little different. The emerald green version was my first and I bought it when my collection consisted of maybe 10 spydies. Yes, it’s hard to believe I once had only 10 spydies, I know. Because I had so few spydies, I carried that green Chinese Folder along with my Li’l Temp almost non-stop for more than a year. It’s seen a lot of use and I can’t see myself ever getting rid of it.

The blue Lum wasn’t love at first sight; I was more into ‘tacticals’. Only when it wasn’t available anymore, I started to want one. I was ready to accept that I just couldn’t get one, when the following Christmas my wife hands me a little gift wrapped box and lo and behold, the Blue Chinese Folder! I love using it during spring or summer; the blue color gives it a ´light and warm´ feel.

When the black ZDP 189 Sprint Run Chinese Folder was announced, I had the cash and the required dealer-relationship to pre-order this bad boy. Unfortunately, one’s patience was tested severely. IIRC it took over a year from the knife’s announcement before it was shipped. The ZDP blade wasn’t as finely finished as my Stretch 2; there was some patina straight from the box. This was a bit of a bummer, but a little ‘super’ polish from AG Russell fixed that permanently. In fact, after the polishing job I not only got the start of a mirror polish, but the ZDP blade just refuses to stain. I tried mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemons etc… but the ZDP 189 has refused to stain to this day. For me, the knife now has this weird –but nice- ‘tough gent’s folder’ vibe to it. I carry it a lot more now.

The foliage green Lum was a regrettable departure from the sleek and classy colors of the previous incarnations. To me, foliage green should be reserved for ‘working’ or ‘tactical’ designs, not gent’s knives like the Lum Chinese Folder. This sprint run didn’t fly off the shelves like the ZDP sprint, so after a while I figured ‘what the heck, let’s complete this collection’. It’s proven to be a nice ‘regular carry’ knife.

The emerald green and blue Lums are reserved for special occasions and they will always be special to me. The ZDP and foliage green sprint runs see the most pocket time these days. Since I adhere to Sal’s maxim that states something along the lines of “Not using the knife is missing 80% of what we put in it”, I guess my favorite Bob Lum Chinese Folder is the ZDP189 sprint run with the black almite handle. Still, ask me again when I receive the carbon fiber and XL variations, and I may just change my mind.

Spyderco production Prototype Video – Bob Lum Chinese Folders

March 22, 2010

Eric Glesser goes over some of the features of two new Production Prototypes, the Bob Lum Chinese Folder Extra Large, and the Carbon Fiber Chinese Folder.

Chinese Folder rant…sort of

February 16, 2010

I absolutely love the Chinese Folder design by Bob Lum. Closed or open, the lines are simply stunning. What makes it even better, is that’s it’s a very functional design. The curved handle and slightly dropped blade offer great ergos, and the full flat ground leaf blade is a great cutter. Imagine my rollercoaster of emotions last year when I heard that another sprint run was released… foliage green.


Yes, I know the almite can get slippery. Yes, I realize there is no jimping on the spine for a better control of the blade. And yes, I also realize the knife has a ‘mere linerlock’. That all doesn’t matter when you know how to cut with a knife, i.e. point the edge towards the object you want to cut and you’ll be fine. This is a knife for connoisseurs, for people who know their way around knives; know how to appreciate them and how to use them.

You can imagine my giddy mood when I read the news of a new sprint run of Chinese folders for a US distributor last year. But by Thor’s hammer, why did they order this great classy design in foliage green?! I even heard a version was made with a foliage green handle and a black blade, but I refuse to believe that! I don’t mind foliage green as a handle color in itself, not at all. On a working knife design, I really like it. I love my foliage green Delica, Military, UKPK and I even learned to accept the foliage green G10 on the Khukuri and Barong. But why try to make the pinnacle of custom folding artistry that is the Bob Lum Chinese Folder, into an uncouth ‘tactical folder’? It’s nonsense!

My inner collector finally beat my sense of good taste and I decided to get one after all. I must say it’s nice to have a ‘minty fresh’ Chinese Folder again to add to my collection. And since I don’t care much for the handle color, this version of Bob Lum’s creation makes a fine user. Next time, make it in a nice burgundy red or purple OK?

Personal Classic: Lum Chinese Folder PE

July 4, 2004

I bought the Lum Chinese folder over 2 years ago, and you’d be hard pressed to find a another folder that is as functional as it is beautiful. Together with the Li’l Temperance, this knife is the only production knife that feels like an actual custom. Although it has fallen from production, I am sure it will become quite a sought after piece in years to come. I was looking for a pure no-compromise utility folder for EDC. The Chinese folder looked very functional with its wide full flat ground blade, and pretty too. Together with the Li’l Temp it seemed a nice combination. And it most certainly is.

I always preferred a drop point blade for general utility work. I still do, but the wharncliffe is catching up quickly in that department. Even with my newly acquired appreciation for the wharncliffe blade, the Chinese Folder still holds up with it low point and slight belly. The blade is perfect for my utility uses. The wide thin and flat ground blade cuts even when dull. The point is plenty sharp for cutting out articles and splinter removal. The opening hole is large, in the Military tradition, so even though this knife is a dedicated right-hander, us lefties can get around it. Left-handed carry and deployment (tip-up) is pretty good, and with practice it becomes second nature.

Edge holding is excellent with Spyderco’s VG-10. I usually sharpened this knife once a month, when I still carried it daily. Plus, the blade is just plain pretty! The wide subtle leaf shape with the Kanji logo (Lum = forest if my Japanese hasn’t become too rusty 😉 look carefully and you can recognize two little pine trees in the Kanji characters). The Chinese folder excels in the kitchen BTW, it’s my favorite kitchen folder. The point is fine enough to finish the meat that stressed supermarket butchers have no time for. I used to be one myself ;-). Sometimes I order a steak straight from the main piece in which it is packaged. On weekends I enjoy to perform the final cleaning (cutting away fleece and tendon) of my meat. The Chinese folder is a bit slippery in wet hands, but the blade is a great performer. Vegetables, potatoes and such are a piece of cake (to stay in culinary terms).

The handle visually complements the blade shape very well. Aesthetically the handle and blade are a perfect union. Functionally, my only complaint is that the handle lacks the kind of grippiness you get with FRN or G10, and there’s no choil to stop your fingers sliding on the blade. In that same sense, I would prefer to add thumb serration on the spine of the blade, to add a little more traction for the user. But all these things would take away from the good looks of this piece.

The almite is quite grippy at first, but the inside of a pocket changes that quickly. Handle lenght is pretty good, there’s plenty space for my average (glove size XL) sized hand, which makes up for the little grippiness issues mentioned above; plenty of leverage.

Although not of the new styled compression lock style, this linerlock is plenty reliable and definitely on par with that of the Military for example. I cannot remember any case of lock failure being mentioned on both or the Spyderco Forums. From the box, the lock was almost completely shifted to the end of the tang, leaving little room for wear and adjustment. The lock was very solid though, and in six months use I could not detect any further ‘travel’ of the locking bar. Still, it looked like a cosmetic blemish, so I ventured where few Spyderknuts dare to tred: I dissassembled the knife! Well…only partly. I found a thread where someone explained in great detail how you could adjust the eccentric pivot (like in the Military and this piece). Although you void the warranty, I managed to successfully adjust the locking bar so it engaged the tang just short of the middle, leaving ample room for future ‘travel’….which hasn’t happened since. So it wasn’t necessary, but easy enough to be fun to do. Furthermore, this kind of operation gives you a feeling of enhanced trust in your tools, “hey I can fix this thing if I have to”.

The clip is of the old fashioned stamped steel variety and can be swiched around for tip-up or down carry. For a medium sized spydie like the Chinese Folder, I prefer tip-up carry IWB. I can just hook my indexfinger behind the pivot side of the closed folder and the knife pops in my hand, ready for opening. There’s just enough opening hole exposed on the clipsde, for us lefties to open the knife. I just wished the Viele had this feature; it’s just as pretty, but no way I could open that one left-handed. So Sal, if you’re reading this and were thinking of a reintroduction of the Viele (hey the Goddard and Calypso came back for a run!), please make it a wee bit accessible for us lefties.

Get this folder while supplies last, since it has been discontinued. If you’re in the market for a pretty all-utility folder, then this one is for you, especially if your right-handed. It’s pretty first and functional second, and that is not a bad thing. It’s looks add a pride of ownership and public use. If you’re planning to introduce the non-knife enthusiasts in your surroundings to a larger knife than say a Kiwi, Dragonfly or Jester, then this would be a good one. The perfect Chinese Folder? Perhaps switch the almite with G10 and use double liner so the lip could be reversed for left-handed use. Would that make it prettier though? I think not.